£EITH CHOOSES 2022: Leith community organisations urged to apply for up to £5,000 grants

Organisers of £eith Chooses, an association that distributes grant funding each year towards community projects in Leith, are urging local charities and organisations to submit their project applications as soon as possible.

This year there is £49,102 available to fund community projects on the theme of ‘Sustaining Leith: supporting and protecting the most vulnerable in out community.’

Leith groups can apply for up to £5000 for a project idea that both serves the local community and can be delivered within 12 months. But they must do so soon – the deadline is September 30.

Successful applicants will be decided by the Leith community themselves during voting week in January 2023 where the public will be able to view all proposals.

Members of £eith Chooses are urging Leith organisations and charities to get their applications in by September 30.

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    Once Leith residents cast their vote for their favourite proposals, funding will be made available in the first quarter of next year.

    Sally Millar, a long standing member of the £eith Chooses steering group, said: “The outcome is that a number of community groups or charities are given funding and they then use that funding to carry out projects which are of benefit to the community in Leith.

    “Over the years we’ve built it up and the community has taken it on board. It’s become a regular part of the calendar in Leith and part of the established community activity in Leith.

    “Its not a panel of the great and the good deciding from on high who to give money to. It’s the local community deciding for itself who should get the money.”

    This year £49,102 is available to fund community projects in Leith.

    “Basically, it’s a form of local democracy – if people don’t think money is going to the right place then they have the solution in their own hands if you like. Their votes can direct the money elsewhere.”

    Sally added: “In recent years it’s become obvious that there is so much deprivation and disadvantage in Leith. The themes are angled towards anything that could alleviate in some way that poverty for some of the people that are most suffering from it. Of course Covid and now the cost of living crisis is putting that into even sharper focus.”

    The organisation, previously called Leith Decides, was a council run participatory budgeting initiative founded in 2011, but since 2017 has been a partnership between the council, the Leith community councils and supporting Leith businesses.

    This year’s funds were provided by the City of Edinburgh Council who allocated £46,102 from the Community Grants Fund and the Port of Leith Housing Association donated £3,000 towards the worthy cause.

    Last year Home-Start Leith and North East Edinburgh used available funds to bring families together through a gardening group.

    Susan Rae, Green councillor for Leith Walk and Chair of the £eith Chooses steering group said that this year’s theme reflects the current needs of the Leith community.

    Councillor Rae said: “It’s about community cohesion this time and pulling people back together after Covid when people weren’t able to meet together.

    “Now we’re back to basic core services because of things like the cost of living crisis and the fact that people really struggled through Covid because they were losing income.

    “Unfortunately this crisis has brought has back to that place where it’s just very basic things that we’re trying to give to people to make sure that communities stay together through this cost of living crisis to help each other out.

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    Cllr Rae said that the Leith community would “fall apart without its community organisations” and said they “really hold it together and they’re particularly strong in times of crisis.”

    The Leith Walk councillor said: “They’ve been absolutely superb throughout Covid, they’ve reacted to the Ukrainian crisis really well, they’re hugely supportive to anybody in need here.

    “I think it’s a very strong characteristic of the Leith ethos and we’re very keen for projects that are doing that kind of work to get in touch and get their applications in.”

    Lib Dem Leith Walk councillor and steering group member, Jack Caldwell said: “We thought it was appropriate that the theme was something quite universal that ensures the maximum amount of people can benefit from this year’s round of funding.”

    Last year saw 13 organisations receive fully funded projects with one proposal being partly funded.

    Among the successful applicants were House of Jack, a Leith based dance studio that used funds to put on free weekly dance socials for the elderly community to tackle loneliness.

    Another organisation to receive funds was Home-Start Leith and North East Edinburgh who support parents with young children at their home. Their grant was used to bring families together through a gardening group.

    Citadel Arts received partial funding to create a drama group for you people to develop confidence and performance skills and to put on performances in the community.

    This year, Leith organisations and charities will have until the end of the month to submit their applications and £eith Chooses staff would like to see as many proposals as possible.

    Sally Millar explained that, due to the nature of the scheme, projects do not need to be complicated as organisations will have a relatively small amount of money and time to deliver their projects.

    Mrs Millar said: “The voting public need to understand what the project is. The funding is not for people to carry on doing what they are already doing so we encourage people to keep their projects simple and clear.”

    If you have an idea but would like some support on how to develop your proposal, you can speak with a member of $eith Chooses at the learning centre on Wednesday (September 7). The information event will take place upstairs at the McDonald Road Library from 4pm onwards.

    You can also email a member of the steering group for advice at [email protected]

    For information on eligibility, further details and to download a form visit www.leithchooses.net